WASHINGTON — The nightly news shows made it very clear this week that they’ve gotten behind Hillary Clinton’s expected 2016 campaign for president.
The network programs gave Clinton’s trip to Iowa the gushing royal treatment on Sunday, repeating it again on Monday, as she appeared before a throng of cheering Democrats where her party’s first presidential nominating caucuses will be held. The coverage of her speech, which was loaded with empty platitudes and little else that was newsworthy, bordered on the worshipful.
That she has the 2016 Democratic nomination virtually sewed up at this juncture tells us everything we need to know about the sad state of the Democratic Party today.
She is manifestly ill-equipped to be president and has shown no talents to be a chief executive of anything, let alone the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth.
No one can name a major achievement in her career as first lady, senator from New York or secretary of state. Indeed, her role in all three jobs has been marked by failure, incompetence and grandstanding.
When President Clinton put her in charge of health care reform, she glued together a hopelessly incomprehensible Rube Goldberg contraption that no one could understand, or that could pass muster within her own party on Capitol Hill.
Republicans hit the road, making its defeat their No. 1 issue, and it wasn’t a hard sell.
I remember a newsmaker health care panel I chaired at the time to discuss her plan, and the chief lobbyist of the politically powerful AARP told me it was so complicated and murky even he couldn’t fully understand how it would work.
Her plan was so bad, House Democratic leaders never even brought it up for a vote in committee, let alone bring it to the House floor. It was a humiliating experience for the Clinton administration and a devastating defeat for a first lady who was clearly in over her head on health policy.
But the little-known fact about Hillary’s years in the White House was that she was often at odds with her husband over key issues and policies.
During that time, President Clinton worked closely with the centrist-leaning Democratic Leadership Council, which he had chaired during his time as governor of Arkansas. The council’s agenda was focused on expanding trade, reforming welfare, and championing non-union, charter school education reforms — positions that were fiercely opposed by the party’s liberal base.
DLC leaders at the time told me that Hillary, who was far more liberal than her husband, opposed their centrist agenda within the White House.
Obviously, Clinton dismissed her complaints when he expanded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed Republican legislation cutting the capital gains tax and enacted the GOP’s welfare-to-work reforms.
Then came Hillary’s Senate years, choosing to run in the overwhelmingly Democratic state of New York, not in Arkansas, where she and her husband established their political careers.
Can anyone name one major legislative initiative that she made during her time as a senator? One legislative reform that she authored, fought for and managed through Congress?
Yet by 2008, she believed she was ready to run the country and lead the free world. Democrats didn’t think so.
In the first major nominating contest that year, Hillary finished a humiliating third in the Iowa caucuses — behind Obama and then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Her candidacy was seen as presumptuous, and her aloof, humorless personality on the stump didn’t help, either.
But President Obama made her his secretary of state, despite the fact that she had no foreign policy experience whatsoever. But, then, neither did Obama, who had been an untested freshman senator of no accomplishment for a mere three years before he ran for president.
She quickly demonstrated that she had little or no skills in foreign policy statecraft, focusing instead on making lots of speeches and building her travel record — leaving the details of running the State Department and its embassies and consulates to others.
That led to the deadly catastrophe in Benghazi, Libya, where our ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack that State Department officials initially tried to cover up as a tame Muslim protest that just got out of hand.
Numerous investigations and congressional hearings were held, revealing the heartbreaking pleas from U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens for beefed-up security at the besieged consulate — which never came.
Since she stepped down from her post at the end of Obama’s first term, and after writing a book about her four years at State, Hillary has had many opportunities to address the enormous problems that afflict our country under this administration.
Start with the weak, jobless Obama economy, about which Hillary, incredibly, has had little or nothing to say.
A Pew Poll late last month found 58 percent of Americans surveyed said “jobs are difficult to find.” Median family income has fallen from $53,100 in 2007 to $46,700 in 2013. About one-third of young adults, the so-called millennials, still live with their parents. The U.S. economy is stuck in a slow-growth quagmire of less than 2 percent annually.
Hillary’s government-centered solution at the steak fry in Indianola, Iowa, Sunday sounded almost word for word like Obama’s failed agenda: “… we are for raising the minimum wage, for equal pay for equal work, for making college and technical training affordable, for growing the economy to benefit everyone.”
But raising the minimum wage would kill 500,000 to 1 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. How would she produce stronger economic growth, create more jobs and raise incomes? She doesn’t say.
Her husband did it by cutting tax rates on investors that triggered a wave of capital investment in new businesses and pounded the unemployment rate to 4 percent. But in a party that wants to raise taxes, it’s doubtful Hillary will be taking his advice.